178 Whitechapel Road

late 1870s, shophouse

178 Whitechapel Road
Contributed by Survey of London on July 3, 2018

Like the London Hospital Tavern, this shophouse was built in the late 1870s following the construction of the East London Railway. The site had earlier been that of an open shed pertaining to the tavern. Early or first occupants were E. Andrews & Co., leather merchants, for whom the long workshop range to the rear was reconstructed in 1901 by Walter Gladding. The premises housed a notable bookshop from 1980 to 2008. Originally the Tower Hamlets Arts Project Community Bookshop, first established at Watney Market in 1977, this was known as Eastside Bookshop from 1994. It continues at 166 Brick Lane as the Brick Lane Bookshop.1

Further east on what became the enlarged Post Office site in the 1960s, George Lambert, a coachmaker, and James Percival, a soapmaker, had adjacent premises in the first years of the nineteenth century. Lambert was succeeded by Joseph Norbury, a coppersmith, and then from 1853 to the 1890s by William Henry Myers, a printer. Walter Gladding, builder, had premises here known as Byfield Works from 1894. He had rebuilt a number of this frontage’s two-storey properties on a larger scale by 1903. The Whitechapel Road Synagogue was under a glass roof to the rear of 192 Whitechapel Road by that date up to 1932.2

  1. London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), District Surveyor's Returns (DSR): Post Office Directories (POD): Tower Hamlets planning applications online: http://bricklanebookshop.org/history/Our%20History%20-%20The%20Bookshop.html 

  2. LMA, Tower Hamlets Commissioners of Sewers ratebooks; DSR; GLC/AR/BR/22/020710; ACC/2893/202: Royal London Hospital Archives, RLHLH/F/10/3: POD: Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, C/OFR/1/14/15/1–2: The National Archives, IR58/84804/2193–2200; IR58/84805/2202–6 

Tower Hamlets Arts Project - THAP! - and Despite TV
Contributed by gareth on Sept. 16, 2016

This was the location of THAP! - Tower Hamlets Arts Project - in the late 1970s and the 1980s. There was a bookshop on the ground floor and offices above. THAP! published books on East End history. There was also a video production project based here called Despite TV which made documentaries on the Wapping newspaper dispute (Despite the Sun) and the re-development of the Isle of Dogs (Despite the City). Both are still in circulation.